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Confucianism. Religion or philosophy?. Background: (700-221 BCE) Warring States Period. Political, economic and social chaos. Sun Tzu- wrote “Art of War” (544-496 BCE). Confucius. 552?-479 BCE K’ung Fu-tzu, Master Kung Wanted to be political advisor Little known of life.

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Religion or philosophy?

Background 700 221 bce warring states period
Background: (700-221 BCE) Warring States Period

  • Political, economic and social chaos

Sun Tzu- wrote “Art of War” (544-496 BCE)


  • 552?-479 BCE

  • K’ung Fu-tzu, Master Kung

  • Wanted to be political advisor

  • Little known of life

Learning from the past
Learning from the past

“I am a transmitter, not an innovator; I believe in antiquity and love the ancients.”


  • Analects: central teachings

    • Basis for exams, 125 BCE

    • Scholar officials needed to know them

    • Confucianism supreme


  • “Not to do to others what you would not have them do to you.” (Analects 15:23)

  • Human relationships

  • Reciprocity, neighborliness

Negative golden rule
Negative Golden Rule

  • Is there a difference between the golden rule and the negative golden rule?

Five relationships
“Five Relationships”

Ruler <-----> Subject

Father <-----> Son

Husband <-----> Wife

Older brother <-----> Younger brother

Friend <-----> Friend

*Mutual care, but respect for elders

Jen ren
Jen (ren)

  • “Goodness”

  • “Benevolence”

  • “Humanity”

  • “Human-heartedness”

Why do you think this is one of the most important ideas in Confucianism?


  • Family relationships teach you about all relationships


  • “Ritual”

  • “Training in virtue, avoid evil”

  • “Proper behavior”

  • Example: honor heaven and ancestors


How can li mean “proper behavior” and “ritual”? What does that imply?


  • Supreme deity

  • Lord on high

  • Sacrifices made to heaven

Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Li cont
Li cont.

  • Ancestral cult

    • honor ancestors

  • Family ritual

    • Capping: 15-20 yrs old; gets hat, gown and formal name

    • Marriage

    • Funerary rites

Chinese wedding

Governmental ideas
Governmental Ideas

  • Leadership by example

  • People are good

  • Gov’t for happiness, not control

  • Scholar officials are to lead gov’t

  • Ideal society needs no laws (how possible?)

School built to study Confucianism

Additional teachings
Additional teachings

  • Virtue above nobility

  • Education over military

Mencius 371 289 bce and hsun tzu 289 238
Mencius (371-289 BCE) and Hsun-tzu (289-238)

  • Students of Confucius

  • Systematized his teachings



What do you think is confucianism a religion
What do you think? Is Confucianism a religion?

  • Write down two reasons why it should be categorized as a religion and two reasons why it should not be?

What does smith say
What does Smith say?

  • If religion= “a way of life around people’s concerns,” yes.

  • If religion= “a concern to align humanity with the transcendental ground of its existence,” mostly.

Smith review cont
Smith review, cont.

  • Heaven= ancestors

  • “Though the spirits should not be neglected, people should come first.”

  • Don’t worry about heaven until this world is good- “One world at a time.”

  • Obligations to present family more important than to ancestors.

  • Once worked on being here, can work on uniting with Heaven.

Plato s republic
Plato’s Republic

  • “Until either philosophers become kings or those now called kings and regents become genuine philosophers, so that political power and philosophy coincide and the many natures that now enter exclusively on one or the other are constrained from so doing, there will be no end to the evils, dear Glaucon, for cities nor, I think, for the human race, and this regime we’ve gone through in words will never grow into possibility and see the light of the sun.”